~ "Would You Like Red 'Rooster' Sauce With That?"~
I've been using Sriracha hot chili sauce to cook Asian fare, more specifically Thai food, since 1993. That is twenty years. It was introduced to me by a close friend from Thailand, and, without her presence in my foodie world at the time, I am certain it would have been several more years before it would have made its way into my pantry. During these past twenty years, I have watched Sriracha go from a seldom used, specialized ingredient (which I had to buy in an Asian market), to a readily-available common staple found in every grocery store in Central Pennsylvania. Within the last five years, my family and friends have started requesting Sriracha so much, I now keep it on my refrigerator door along with the ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard!
In fact, we now use enough of Sriracha here in Melanie's Kitchen that I decided to research and experiment with recipes for making it in the home kitchen. From picking out the perfect peppers (which must be fully-ripe, bright-red, freshly-picked jalapenos) to learning about the week-long fermenting process (necessary to achieve the classic, vinegar-y tang), I intend start making my own Sriracha. That, however, will obviously have to wait until the Summer, as I have absolutely no access to fresh, bright-red, jalapeno peppers, in January, in Happy Valley, Pennsylvania!
A bit about Sriracha (see-RAH-chuh): Sri Racha is a seaside port-city in the Chonburi province of Thailand. Located 65 miles from Bankok, Sri Racha has many large factories that employ its residents, many of whom are from China, Japan and Korea. Sri Racha is known for its seafood, seafood venders, seafood restaurants, and, hot conconctions (chili pastes) that adorn their dishes. The most famous: Nam prik Sriracha. It is a bright-red paste made from peppers, garlic, vinegar, sugar and salt. Sriracha, with its perfect balance of salty, sour, spicy and sweet flavors is Thailands signature sauce. Its popularity quickly spread to neighboring countries, like Vietnam, and, that's how it ended up here in America!
The Sriracha known to us Americans is: Tuong Ot Sriracha, also referred to as 'Rooster' sauce, because of the rooster on the front of the green-capped squeeze bottle. This version of Sriracha was created by David Tran, who was born in Vietnam and of Chinese ancestry. In Vietnam, he sold chile peppers to earn a living, followed by chili sauces. During the Vietnam War he and his family fled their country via a Taiwanese freighter named the "Huy Fong". They eventually made their way to Boston in the 1970's. To make a long story short, Huy Fong Foods, now a California-based company, was born. As for the proud, in-your-face rooster? He represents the year of Tran's birth on the Chinese zodiac!
Mel Meets The Sriracha Cookbook, by Randy Clemens!
Fifty 'Rooster' Sauce Recipes That Pack A Punch!!!
Over the past week, I've posted three recipes for Asian chicken tenders, which are perfect for the frigid Winter doldrums here in PA. Along with these recipes, I've been posting their accompanying sauces. If you are a lover of Asian food, you know that having the right condiment or dipping sauce to go with the right dish is very important. As a result, I have three great sauces leftover in my refrigerator, along with a big bottle of Sriracha!
Over the next couple of days, I'm going to be posting a few more Asian recipes, to make use of all of these flavor-packed, leftover condiments. While ordering a few of the necessary Asian ingredients on Amazon.com, I came across this book and ordered it immediately. Yesterday, within minutes of its arrival, I found several recipes I intend to try, as well as a great recipe for making homemade Sriracha sauce, which will serve as my role model for my own version!
If you are addicted to Sriracha sauce, I highly-suggest you pick up a copy of: The Sriracha Cookbook!
Cook's Note: For now, I'll be preparing my next few recipes using store-bought Sriracha, but, join me in the Summer, when my husband Joe's backyard vegetable garden yields the coveted red jalapenos for real-deal Sriracha!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013)